Does Your Driving Lead To Family Arguments?

Thu 19th Jul 2018

The close confines of car travel lead to more arguments than any other situation in our daily lives according to a revealing survey released this week.

The survey from carwow shows that falling out over directions is the most common cause of so-called ‘carguments’ with 33 per cent of those polled admitted it has led to a fall out. A partners driving skill is second on the list, whilst driving too fast also causes internal grief.

Other non-driving related issues such as what’s on the radio, and classic worries such as finances, family, children and chores also figure highly.

The survey also revealed that some couple can go as long as three hours to more than a day before speaking with each other again.

“The act of driving brings stress of its own and a driver can already be stressed and frustrated by so many triggers on the road such as traffic, inconsiderate driving, roadworks etc,” says Dr Sandi Mann, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Central Lancashire.

“Throw another person into the mix and it’s always going to have the potential to be explosive.

“The triggers for an argument are far more prevalent in driving situations, too – your partner’s individual habits come to the fore; perhaps in their lack of willingness to ask for directions, their tendency to drive too fast, or aggression towards other drivers. All of these things can wind another person up.

“And once an argument starts, neither of you can go anywhere until the journey is over, so it’s only going to go one of two ways – a dramatic silence or, far more likely, a spin-off into other topics where one or both of you are harbouring a grudge.

“The ways to avoid arguing in a car are the same as anywhere else – one side can just stop talking as it’s impossible to argue with yourself. Or once you realise a row is brewing, you can take deep breaths and count to 10 before speaking again in an attempt to calm your thoughts.

“Car specific steps that couples can take are to listen to soothing music only while on trips and to keep the car clean – create an environment that isn’t conducive to squabbling in the first place.”

Arguing in the car comes top of the poll for locations for domestic strife, above kitchens, the bedroom and the bathroom.

Top Ten Tips For Avoiding Arguments In Your Car
1. Be aware that car journeys are a trigger for ‘carguments’ – being forewarned is being forearmed.

2. Identify your own cargument triggers. For example, if directions get you in a fluster or concerns over speed are a regular catalyst, you might be able to navigate a cargument more easily. If it’s triggers outside the car, such as money then avoid discussion while on the road. Once these are identified, it’s easier to try to avoid them until you get out of the car.

3. The car is a confined space, so avoid piling additional stress on to a journey. Keep stress levels as low as possible by making sure you have plenty of time, are not in a rush and trying to avoid the busiest times on the road.
4. If a cargument is brewing, keep your cool by practicing vagal breathing; breathe in slowly through the nose, hold the breath for a few seconds then breathe out slowly through the mouth.

5. Put a relaxing piece of music on the ipod or CD player if things get heated – it really can make a difference.

6. Make sure the car is cool and comfortable and you’re not cramped in (if you’re arguing about the temperature of the car then this might not be possible!).

7. Stop for a breather at a roadside café or service station – this will diffuse the situation and switch your attention to other things (as well as getting you out of the close confines of the car and into a more public space).

8. This is perhaps the hardest one for some, but diffuse anger by apologising – even if you are in the right.

9. Use equivocal language as it is softer – ‘it may be’, or ‘in my opinion’ rather than ‘it is’.

10. Find common ground, especially in terms of finding something that unites you; for example, join forces to moan about another driver, find a car you both like on the road or admire a house that you are passing that you know appeals to both of you.